Supporters picket of the EDF London office on 6th June
TWENTY-ONE climate activists belonging to the No Dash for Cash campaign last week were sentenced to long hours of community service but spared jail at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court for occupying the West Burton Gas-Fired Power Station last autumn.
Despite fears that some of the protesters might be facing jail terms, they were given lesser – but still punitive – sentences ranging from 18 months conditional discharges for five of the protesters, to varying numbers of hours of community service.
On the evening of the trial, other No Dash for Cash campaigners staged a solidarity picket outside the head offices of EDF in Victoria Street, London.
On sentencing, the judge remarked: “All of you are highly educated men and women, industrious committed individuals who wok and volunteer in your communities. Your motives were genuine... what you planned you executed to perfection.”
Speaking after the sentencing, Rachel Thompson said: “Although – thank goodness - none of us are going to jail, we are still facing penalties for simply standing up for clean, safe and affordable energy.
“Meanwhile everyone in the country will be facing a disastrously destabilised climate and rocketing fuel bills if we don’t stop the Government's reckless dash for gas.
“The Government is putting the profits of the Big Six energy companies before the fundamental need for a safe and liveable climate for generations to come.”
More than 64,000 people signed a petition in support of the No Dash For Gas protesters after EDF launched a £5 million damages claim against them. The lawsuit was quickly dropped in the face of this public outcry, and support for the campaigners seems to have remained strong.
Supporters of No Dash For Gas have also vowed to return to EDF's West Burton power station for a four day “Reclaim The Power” action camp in August.
The protest targeted EDF, an immensely powerful energy corporation with a history of abuse of corporate power, from the role of French secret agents in blowing up the Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand to illegally spying on Greenpeace activists to protect the company’s nuclear interests.
The "Climate Camp-style" gathering is expected to attract a mixture of climate campaigners, pensioners facing fuel poverty and anti-austerity activists, and promises a "surprising and inspiring mass action".
Ewa Jasiewicz, one of the 21 defendants said after the sentencing: “Reclaim the Power is about just that – reclaiming the power to decide where our energy comes from, what we use it for and how we organise our society in the public interest, according to people's needs and not for corporate greed.
“A decentralised, renewable, publicly-owned energy system is both possible and necessary if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change and ever-worsening fuel poverty".
The campaigners warn that Britain is currently on an unsustainable path with its energy generation. Last week MPs voted against a 2030 decarbonisation target, that would have locked in investor certainty to invest in renewable energy, and generated sustainable jobs and taxes across the booming green economy.